Catalyst One Day Chicago: Two Powerful Questions by Craig Groeschel

Craig’s second talk will be a two-poster…because he asked two powerful questions to begin his talk that merit placing in a separate post.


How many of you often feel overwhelmed with the sense of burden and responsibility that comes with leadership?

How many of you would say there’s a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now?


How would you answer those questions?  Do you see the correlation?

(BTW, I raised my hand to both.  I’m a continual work in progress.)

I’m thankful for Craig’s transparency…stay tuned.

Catalyst One Day Chicago Session Two: Craig Groeschel on Mindset Changes

In the second session of Catalyst One Day Chicago, Craig Groeshchel spoke about “Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes” building from Romans 12:2.  His opening statement was that one of the major momentum killers is an improper mindset.

Craig is a great storyteller.  Here is some of what I learned from Craig in session two:

Think differently about your church culture. Every church is different and needs a different mindset.  As the church grows and changes, its mindset must be willing to change.

We all have those phrases “Our people won’t __________”  (Come to the early service, volunteer all month, give sacrificially…etc.)  Instead of saying that, we need to change our mindset to say “We haven’t led our people to _________”

Think differently about people leaving the church. The church can actually grow when people leave.  Churches need more confidence in the church God has called them to be.  Sometimes people are in the church for the wrong reasons and churches shouldn’t strive as hard to keep them.  There may be a church, which better meets what they are looking for in a church.

Think differently about limitations. Often the truth is “we CAN’T because we don’t.”

We don’t necessarily need more money.  We may need to learn how to do more with less.  Sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want for a reason.

Craig ended his talk with three assignments for the audience.

  1. 1. Find someone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they think, not what they do.
  1. 2. Identify one wrong mindset you currently have and ask God to renew your mind with truth.
  1. 3. Identify one painful decision you’ve been avoiding and commit to make the decision no matter what the short-term pain.

There was much more to this session that what I can share.  This is another reason you need the CD’s from Catalyst One Day Chicago.

What are your thoughts?  What limitations have you placed on your church, because you aren’t trusting in God’s power or strength?

Catalyst One Day Chicago Session One: Andy Stanley on Momentum

Andy Stanley led the opening session from Catalyst One Day Chicago.  He shared a few introductory thoughts to his talk:

  • Businesses immediately respond when momentum decreases, but for some reason the church will ignore momentum declines for years as long as the bills are being paid.
  • Momentum is always disruptive, so it scares some churches.
  • Momentum is all about moving forward, which is why leaders like momentum.
  • If you lack momentum and you don’t understand these principles, you are one dumb decision away from losing it all.

Three components of sustained momentum:

New – Anything new, negative or positive, triggers momentum…

Organizational momentum is often triggered by one of these three things:

  • New leadership
  • New direction
  • New product

New doesn’t guarantee sustained momentum, but new is an essential trigger for momentum.

Improved – The new must be a noticeable improvement over the old.

Improving – Momentum is sustained through continuous improvement.  This improvement must be continually evaluated.

Andy walked us through the local supermarket to see how businesses do this everyday.  Andy explains these principles, including how he applies these principles directly to the church.  It was a very helpful talk.

What is your church or organization doing to offer new, improved and improving sustained momentum?

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Opening Thoughts

I’m excited to be a part of the excitement at Catalyst One Day Chicago.  This is the first time in Chicago for Catalyst.  We are at Willow Creek Community Church.  This is my first trip here, and as I was warned, I’m blown away by this facility.

Today we will hear from Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel…in fact…they just walked on stage.  We are talking about momentum, but they are also doing a Q & A session.  We have just prayed that God would speak to us today with fresh ideas, renewed vision, and a greater hope.  That’s my prayer too!

I’m curious, if you had 5 minutes with either of these two great leaders, what would you like to say to them or ask them?

Inviting Evaluation from the People I Lead

Every year I allow the staff at Grace Community Church to evaluate me. I realize this works for some and not for others, but for me it is a part of my plan to continually evaluate and improve my leadership skills and success. I believe strongly that a healthy team allows itself to be vulnerable to each other.  This allows me to set a precedent/example for working transparently with each other.  I set up a system, this year it was using Survey Monkey, that allows them to remain anonymous in answering the questions. Hopefully, this helps them be more honest with me than if they had to sign their name. I tell them in advance that I’m looking to improve myself, not to feel bad about myself, so I ask them to be respectful in their response, but truthful.  (You can read last year’s evaluation in the related links below this post.)

After giving them a few weeks to complete the survey, I host them for a luncheon where we address the questions and give feedback.  I go over every response and/or question that was raised and we discuss it as a staff.

Here are this year’s questions and some of the feedback grouped into categories of answers.  I tried to give a form of every answer that was offered without giving all the repeats.

1. What am I currently adding to the team? What do you see as my strengths?
• Leadership / vision casting / driving the team to achieve more/better
• Accountability, years of wisdom, level thinking, forward/future thinking
• Structure, Future Thinking
• Constantly thinking of ways to improve our ministries. Always challenging us to think ahead.
• Dreaming, idea generation, communication, leadership development

2. What is my greatest weakness? Where do you think I still need improvement?
• Communication, but I can see you continually improving
• Over commitment. I feel like you’re stretched pretty thin most weeks. I know you thrive on being busy, but I don’t want to see you burn out.
• Personal time with staff
• Evaluate situation more before responding
• Rushing to the “next thing” / I realize that has been out of necessity for the most part though
• I think the staff feels a lot of pressure to keep up with you

3. Knowing my skills, where should I be placing more of my attention these days?
• A balance of the “business” end of things and continuing to help each pastor on staff raise their game.
• Helping encourage/improve the team’s strengths & working on their weaknesses
• Keep looking ahead. yet walk beside us where we are at now
• Leadership development
• Continuing to invest in staff, helping to look for future staff as well, helping staff understand who they are (personality, leadership style)
• Planning for the future for the church, reminding us of our specific roles
• Staff development, helping each of us to achieve more/better
• Holding the staff members that directly report to you accountable to their most important responsibilities

4. What do you need from me that you are not currently receiving in the way of leadership/direction?
• Continue meeting to talk, evaluate, and help me to develop my strengths
• Time with you to think strategically in our ministries
• To know when you are giving information vs. a task. You send out a lot of info, but I am not sure if it is just info or something you would want me to do.

5. Do you feel I have your best interest at heart?
• Yes (All answers positive…yeah for this time!!!)

6. Would you feel comfortable bringing problems to me? If not, why?
• Yes (Again, this time I got 100% positive…this has not always been the case.)

7. If you had my job, what would you do differently?
• Give staff time to rest, not send emails on known days off
• Work on staff accountability
• Although I don’t think you should micro manage, I think there is a lack of accountability we are missing as a staff that could hurt us in the long run

8. Since last year’s evaluation, I’ve tried to put down my phone more and listen better. Do you sense any improvement?
• Yes
• Somewhat, yes

9. Describe what you like and don’t like about the work atmosphere at Grace.
• I the love the work environment! Laughter, friendship, and core values. Downside: too much distractions with the space constraints.
• I like the laid-back atmosphere but still feel challenged to think creatively. I like that we are pushed hard to excel and not just be satisfied with doing ministry
• High energy, great being around each other. Not a quiet place to work at times. Very thin walls
• I love the freedom we have as a staff, but again I think some accountability with that freedom is key. There are times that the noise level & “craziness” gets in the way of serious ministry moments and focused work.

10. What would you like to say to me or what questions do you have for me, but you haven’t said them or asked them, for whatever reason?
• Do you see yourself at GCC long-term?
• Appreciate your sincerity, drive and focus
• Thank you. Seriously, thank you for believing in us, encouraging us, challenging us, and investing in us.
• You are very open to come to with problems or questions. I cannot think of anything.
• You have truly become my Pastor, my leader, and a friend. I love GRACE so much!

You might wonder why I’m sharing this. Well, there are two reasons. One, I feel it helps with my personal accountability to continue this process, even though at times the feedback can be hard to receive. Two, it helps share with other leaders who may feel this is something they should do to see what type of feedback is received. I learn something every time I do this. The key, obviously, isn’t just to learn something, but to do something with what I’ve learned. (That’s where more accountability is needed!)

Leaders, how do you solicit feedback from your team?
If you are on a team led by someone else, how does your leader solicit feedback?

10 Questions With Leader Ben Stroup – Generis

I love young leaders. I love the enthusiasm and energy they bring to organizations, which is one of the reasons at Grace Community Church we have surrounded ourselves with young leaders. Ben Stroup is another amazing young leader, but don’t confuse his age for his abilities.  Ben’s resume is packed full of experience.

Ben spent several years leading a major department at Lifeway Christian Resources and now is a full-time generosity strategist for Generis. Ben’s wisdom certainly exceeds his years. He has taken a specific interest in helping churches fully fund their vision. If your church is in need of a consultant in that area, I recommend Ben to you.

You can find Ben on Twitter. His book Church Giving Matters is available HERE.  Click on Ben’s LINK to find his new e-book “Push the Limits of Church Funding“.

Here are 10 questions with leader Ben Stoup:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

No. I wanted to be Superman first, then a policeman, teacher, and a preacher. By high school, I wanted to be a lawyer and politician.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Assistant to the Minister of Sports Evangelism. That meant I waxed the gym floor, organized the closet, and wiped the sweat off he weights in the weight room. It taught me that there is much more to church operations than what you see on stage on Sunday mornings. Details matter.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Dr. Ben Curtis, a professor at Belmont University. He taught me to listen not so much to what people say but what they aren’t saying.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

The Brand You by Tom Peters. Seems like an odd choice, I know. It is irreverent at times but it taught me to see life and myself differently.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Intense. Focused. Driven.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

My ability to assess the current situation, understand the desired end results, and build and execute a plan to produce or create the desired end result.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I never see defeat or failure as an option. Sometimes you just have to “call it” and start over.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Watch people whom God has gifted to build up the Kingdom in special ways try to lead but are completely ineffective due to their interest in position, power, and prestige. Also, watch churches sit on the sidelines of ministry because they are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

Stewardship and generosity are markers of spiritual growth, not financial obligations. What people do with their time, talent, and treasure is what they believe is worth investing in. There is a very spiritual dimension to dealing with money and ministry which is hard for some to reconcile.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Make sure you’re listening to the right voices.

Who are some young leaders you admire and/or are watching?

The Dangerous 7 Year Phenomenon in Marriage

Every 7-year period in a marriage appears to create additional stress to the marriage. I have never understood the phenomenon, and I have no statistical data to support my observations, but I have seen the results of it many times. I have talked with many other pastors and counselors that have observed the same.

The stressful period appears to begin sometime around year 6 and continues through year 8, but primarily around year 7. Another critical period seems to center around year 14 (years 13-15) and again in year 21 (years 20-22). (I haven’t dealt with many marriages beyond that period.) Many marriages actually end during one of these periods.

My suspicion is that it has something to do with life cycles. In 7 years, (which is a biblical year of completion BTW) most marriages have experienced many of the normal highs and lows a marriage faces. Issues such as death, birth, job change, housing change, medical issues and financial stress all create stress in a marriage and over the course of 7 years most marriages experiences some or all of these.

I believe strongly that awareness of a problem helps address the problem. While I don’t understand all the reasons why this phenomenon may occur, experience tells me it is real. My suggestion is that marriages in these critical times and leading up to them be especially sensitive to problems that arise in the marriage. Be willing to seek help when needed. Work on the basics of your marriage again. (Read THIS POST for examples.) Talk to other couples that have successfully weathered the period you are in now. Invest in your marriage. Stay committed to your faith and each other. Build your marriage during this time instead of letting the season of marriage tear you apart.

Pastors/Counselors/Others, have you seen this phenomenon? Do you understand it? Was it true for your marriage?

(If you read my post about my grandparents, I think they are going to be okay in their 10th 7-year cycle. Read that post HERE.)

Sermon on Missions: Being a Good Samaritan

God often (mostly) calls us to do things that stretch our faith, so that we have no choice but to rely on Him. In our Series, Everybody Everywhere at Grace Community Church, I shared a message encouraging our people to find a place to invest their time and resources. Here is that sermon in its entirety.

What is God calling you to do that stretches you?

4 Benefits of Empowering Leaders for the Organization

I recently posted on the need for leaders to delegate and some steps to doing so. (Read those posts HERE and HERE) Following this post, I asked a supposed leader in an organization for a decision from his organization. It appeared to be a minor decision. It certainly would be in our organization. I have held leadership positions in larger organizations, and it would have been a minor decision in either of those places. This leader, however, had to pass the decision up a chain of command. We eventually received a yes answer, but it took a great deal of time through several layers of people to get there. By the time we got the answer, I didn’t need it anymore. (True story.)

It reminded me of the benefits of empowering leaders in an organization.

Giving leaders the power to make a decision does four things:

1. It expedites good service for the customer.
2. It encourages leadership development within the organization.
3. It increases the productivity of the organization.
4. It keeps from frustrating customers/clients like me.

Does your organization need to release power to other leaders?What benefits do you see from doing so?

10 Questions with Leader Dave Ferguson – Community Christian Church

Dave Ferguson is a pastor and mentor to hundreds of church planters around the globe, including me. He is the visionary for New Thing Network, a church planting network.  His church, Community Christian Church, is a pioneer in the multi-site movement.  Dave is an influencer, a teacher, and a visionary leader.  I appreciate his responsiveness to those of us that desire to learn from him.  I also appreciate his commitment to his family. The one meeting I had schedule with him had to be canceled because of a school program for one of his children. I admired that in him. He has befriended my son in Chicago. I previously wrote about that HERE.

Dave’s new book written with his brother Jon, Exponential:  How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement, will debut at the Exponential Conference next month. (A great conference!)  You can follow Dave on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Dave Ferguson:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

Of course not!  I was supposed to be 6’5” and a professional basketball player.  And since I never got drafted….

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

When I was in high school, I drove an ice cream truck.  True!  You know, the small white trucks driving around your neighborhood with the music playing loudly to get kids attention (and their money!). First, I learned basic business principles, which have been helpful in the corporate side of running a church. Selling ice cream was like having my own business because I paid a small fee for the truck and then bought the ice cream from corporate and then sold it at a mark up.  Secondly, I learned to be creative with no resources.  I made every Thursday “FREE ICE CREAM DAY”.  On that day which ever kid got to my truck first would get something free of his/her choice.  Of course it brought whole bunch more kids running and I made a lot more sales.  I did other creative things and on July 4th I broke the record for single-day sales of any ice cream salesman in Sam’s Ice Cream history. If I ever look for another job that is definitely going on my resume!

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I think it has to be my parents.  Before I understood that God believed in me, they believed in me.  And before I ever felt grace, they were gracious to me.  Something that is unique about COMMUNITY and the culture of NewThing is that we assume that you can do it and we believe in you implicitly.  I didn’t know how unique that was until later on in life.  I think Jon and I got that from my parents and we have passed it on.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

I will name two.  First, Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” is a great story and philosophical work that reminds us that what people need most is hope.  Secondly, Carl George’s “Prepare Your Church for the Future” gave us the foundation to become a reproducing church and dream of a reproducing movement.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?




What is your greatest strength in leadership?

According to Strengthfinders my #1 strength is “Futuristic”.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I have to be careful because there are times my vision can outstretch our finances and I need people around me to make sure that we don’t commit to more than we can handle financially.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

When you have to help someone find another place to lead or serve and they don’t see it the same way as you – that is really hard.

What is one misconception about your work you think people may have?

Some people have a misconception that COMMUNITY is a typical multi-site mega-church with a large facility that has lots of “bells and whistles” as the hub.  Not true.  We are a reproducing church with eleven locations in all kinds of spaces with some sites as large as 2500 in average attendance and other sites as small as 150 in attendance.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Do a leadership residency.  Find a church or a leader that is doing what you one day want to do (or as close as you can find) and do whatever it takes (even if you have to pay them!) to spend 6 months to a year doing a leadership residency in that place with that leader.  That kind of apprenticeship is invaluable!

What inspires you about Dave and his influence on the church?